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Obsession and anxiety about a ... "crush" at work.

Hi there,
I feel it almost vital to talk about my personal context before going into this story (because honestly, this experience for a healthy, secure person would be such a non-ordeal -- or, maybe not, who knows).

I have experienced obsessive, ruminative thinking to very high degrees. The most apt way to describe it is "tormenting." Like, you know those pictures of people being spun around and barbecued in hell like in Dante's Inferno? When this one guy, a very emotionally void and distant yet intelligent and handsome man, broke up with me in college, I couldn't get over it. I woke up thinking about him. I thought about him on my way to class. When I studied. I felt like a slave to his sheer absence. A year after our pitifully short relationship of 3 months, I was still not over it and tried to get back with him.

Of course, it wasn't about him. I grew up in a family of repressed, angry, resentful, depressed, and anxious addicts or former addicts and have accordingly followed suit. My mom stuck around and took care of her alcoholism, but I have many painful feelings of abandonment and anxiety from growing up with her and her problems. My dad is also an alcoholic, but severely mentally ill and lives as a homeless man. It shouldn't surprise me that I have addictive, obsessive, and compulsive tendencies. But then there I was a year and a half after me and the guy broke up, and I felt fine. It took some counseling and fun-times making with my new friends at school, but I remember one night having a dream of him turning into a bird and flying away. Upon waking, I almost sprang up and ran a couple laps. It was the weirdest, most liberating moment of my life.

Here I am a couple of years after college, almost 25 years old. I'm working as a copy writer and a waiter to help cushion the bills.

I met this cook at work. I could tell he liked me when I first started working there. But honestly, he's not the kind of guy people think twice about. He's kind of dopey, big ears, a gap in his teeth, kind of lanky and just average in general. But I don't just say this exclusively on a superficial level, but even as a whole. He only likes to talk about sports and rap music. I can tell he has a more serious side because I've heard him talk about some personal things at length. But my friends do think I'm kind of crazy, because a lot of nice, cute guys do like me and liking him just seems like the definition of insanity.

We started talking a bit and he told me about his batty-mentally ill mom and his drunk dad. He himself "drinks more than he should" (indeed, he is always coming in hungover having done god knows what the night before). He's 34 with a kid from an ex-wife who he obscurely said "made him angry." He has no degree and taking basic math at the community college. But above all, I noticed he has these piercing blue eyes that became really hard for me to look at. And then the anxiety happened, the kind of anxiety I haven't felt IN YEARS AND IT MAKES ME WANT TO PLANT MY FACE IN THE CEMENT. And it's because I liked this man who I knew by all means was trouble, a shell of a person incapable of empathy or self-expression, and who I somehow knew would come to disappoint me.

Sure enough, after we had a one night stand, we made plans to hang out again. Without saying how or why, he said he lost both his debit card and his phone (which, he really did). We agree to communicate over Facebook though and agree on Wednesday evening. Sure 'nuff, Wednesday rolls around, and he hasn't said a damn thing. I send him a message trying to be playful, like "Wooowww, thaannnnkks! SEEE YA AFTER MY VACAY." I go on my vacation to Los Angeles, a little butt hurt, but I'm relieved to feel like: "Damn. I don't feel enslaved to him. Like, he still hasn't taken my essence. This feels good."

So I get back to work and pretend like nothing ever happened between us even though he texted me at 2AM the night before. He accused me of "yelling at him," IE, expressing emotion when he explicitly bailed without saying a single effing word. And I told him I didn't yell, that I was neutral at that point. We're the only ones in the restaurant and he sits down and talks for a bit. He seems very honest but again, like he's restrained and held back. He tells me how hot he thinks I am and all that bull that I wish I didn't fall for. But I did, we had sex, and it felt much more intimate than the first just because we were actually sober. I felt kind of self conscious because we also did it in the morning and... well, I don't know there's much more "light" to shine upon all my perceived flaws that are easily hidden with flattering clothing. Right after that, I'm out the door. It was weird. And I could tell right then, it was officially over. But I couldn't let it go.

He barely said anything. I barely said anything. I could tell he was forcing himself to respond. And I was ****ing pissed when I asked him if he wanted to hang out, and after a whole day went by, he did not respond at all. So then I texted him, thinking this would make me feel better about how cripplingly anxious and sad I feel about him not responding and that it would be better for myself to just cut it loose: "So I guess I'll say it because you don't want to, but let's drop it. Whatever reason you're not responding, I don't care to know. I wish you the best."

I get to work and he's talking about all this crass bull to everyone, stories about him screwing girls and all this stuff. And he seems... ecstatic. Arrogant, even. In any case: perfectly fine and I feel like a mess. He even makes a sexual joke at my expense in front of the assistant manager, who did say that he took it too far while trying to keep everything fairly lighthearted. I went into the bathroom and cried because of how cagey and nervous I was and how easy it was for this guy to brush me off the way he did, to do what he wanted at my expense, even after coming back at me again.

Today, I lost my cool. He waltzes in an hour late, calm and hungover, as usual. When the other cook leaves, he immediately makes a plate of food for himself and chows down even though there are hella dishes in the sink. He hides in the back and I call his name so he can help with dishes, to which he replies: "I don't do dishes." Then I asked him: "Seriously, are there any f***s in your wallet? Do you have any, at all, anywhere?" He says, "No." So he finally does some dishes. And then I told him not to tell anyone at work about us, because I still want to be respected by everybody. He says I'm "making a big deal of it." He says he "doesn't disrespect me" and I told him I had no comment. At that point, he seemed visually irritated.

To be honest, I know I want answers from him for some reason. I want to know why he would come at me again just to throw me out in the cold. More importantly, I don't know why I care so much other than that this has also greatly effected my ability to feel okay at work. I really thought that having sex with him would "relieve tension," but it only made it worse in the long run. He's acting so callous and distant and it triggers something so deep inside of me that I'm overpowered with emotion. I find myself in the same torment I was years ago: completely and helplessly obsessed, as if he were a drug I was addicted to, thinking about him and this whole thing without being able to focus on anything else, unable to get closure and move on, and grasping to understand why. I'm so afraid this will develop into the kind of obsession I had years ago for the guy in college, but I want to be brave and try to understand the root of it and what the hell just happened.

I know it's a long one. Any advice, comments, or questions are greatly appreciated.
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First Helper runawaytrain
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replied June 12th, 2017
I am so touched by your story. I am not a mental health professional or anything like that.
It does sound like the cook has limited Interpersonal skills. The Sexual talk At work After Your Second, more intimate hookup Sounded very Familiar. He was obviously trying to Get away from the Scary intensity of his feelings, Just like you Have been.

Have you ever been introduced to meditation? Nothing weird involving Chanting or mantra or Anything Religious. Just Sitting still, Eyes open or eyes closed, Letting go Of each thought as it arises. Over time, And we must hang in and Practice meditation A little bit every day or so To find the groove, you Begin To see That there is Stillness and silence Outside of the "chattering monkey mind". We can't control our thoughts, but we can develop a deeper and deeper ability To connect with a certain special serenity In the face of them. I'm Pointing towards that Fundamental Knowledge/feeling all humans have deep down of "It's okay. Everything's Okay. I am fundamentally safe and ok." Learning to meditate can feel strange or frustrating at first, Because we've spent our entire lives Completely Lost in our thoughts. But It's so worth it! It's the way to discover the meaning of "Happiness is an inside job". Not that anyone's ever going to be 100% happy, 100% of the time lol. but a regular meditation practice Is like Going to the "serenity gym" on a regular basis And gradually Building up a type of "Consciousness muscle". Or like Depositing $10 every week into A savings account And watching it Accrue interest over time and Gradually Bring you to a very different Place financially.

It seems to me There's nothing Terribly Wrong, strange Or pathological about the Experience You're going through with your coworker, though I understand It's emotionally difficult. I think the way forward is to work on Ourselves (thru meditation, psychotherapy, talking with your wiser, calmer, happier friends, and journaling, like you've done here) so that we engage with all 'life stuff', including emotional fall out from ill advised acting on crushes with alcoholic cooks at work, from a place of greater self-love and serenity than before.

Therapy and meditation. Otherwise, We Just keep Acting out Our unconscious patterns, Because we have no conscious insight into what is driving us. Hey, no one had a perfect childhood, right?

[I totally apologize for all the random capitalizations! I'm dictating, And The computer is less-than-perfect, Obviously Very Happy ]

Thank you for taking the time To Really Show yourself. I don't know if You Can Understand This, But you've enriched My life With your thorough, Transparent Description Of yourself And your situation. You're clearly a very genuine, sincere Person And really I wish you all the best. (It'd be great to read an update if you felt so inspired.)
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